Photo: Jimmy KatzChicago is in the midst of a very busy U.S. summer tour with The Doobie Brothers, and the band also has solo headlining dates scheduled into the fall. However, founding singer/keyboardist Robert Lamm reports that his group also is well on its way to completing a new studio album.
"I've written a half-dozen new songs," he tells ABC News Radio. "[And] I've been arranging the brass parts."
Lamm also explains that prior to the latest tour, the different writers in the band were recording tracks separately and sharing and trading material via "a pre-production work site." He adds, however, that "the bulk of the album will be recorded" on the road, as Chicago brings a "very high-quality, 96-bit digital recording studio with us when we travel."
Lamm says the new album, like many of Chicago's previous efforts, will be a diverse musical affair reflecting the varying styles of the group's contributing songwriters.
"I'm liable to contribute songs that have elements of world music and electronica in them," he notes. "But songs written by [singer/bassist] Jason [Scheff] will tend to be ballads, because his point of reference is Elton John and early Chicago or '80s Chicago ballads."
Meanwhile, another Chicago-related album hit stores last month that features some well-known song titles while boasting a quite an unfamiliar sound to fans of the brass-driven rock act. Collaborating with dance-music producer John Van Eps, Lamm oversaw the creation of deconstructed and reconstructed versions of many of Chicago's classic tunes for a project titled Robert Lamm Songs: The JVE ReMixes. Among the Lamm-penned songs Van Eps reimagined as electronica and dance tracks were "Saturday in the Park," "Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?," "Beginnings" and "25 or 6 to 4."
Lamm tells ABC News Radio that, using memorable Chicago tunes that the group re-recorded in 2009, Van Eps "re-tasked a lot of these bits and samples from these recordings and constructed what are, essentially, new songs -- although you recognize what the source material is."
He adds, "The whole thing is very ingenious. It's sort of psychedelic electronica."
Lamm admits he's gotten a mixed reaction to the project, while noting that "the gist of the comments seem to be…that I'm being very brave in remixing these songs in such a manner."
Regarding the concept behind The JVE ReMixes, Lamm notes, "This is kind of where music has been going for a while…going back to rap and hip-hop. Those artists have been sampling beats and bits of lyrics and riffs and whatnot to make new recordings. And so this is kind of an extension of that. This is, I think, the future of music."
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